Forward-thinking business leaders are aware that supporting minority-owned businesses isn't just good for public relations - it can also make their companies stronger. Adding more diversity to a company's supplier base may allow a business to better weather an economic downturn, deal with labor strikes or shortages, and bring new products to market more quickly because that diversity tends to mean the company is less reliant on a single source.
Many corporations have supplier diversity programs in place, but a select group of businesses have excelled in building relationships with minority-owned vendors. When it comes to including this traditionally disadvantaged community in the supply chain, the following companies have distinguished themselves from their peers.
The AT&T Global Supplier Diversity Program was launched in 1968, long before most businesses were thinking about the issue. The company has continued to build on this groundbreaking initiative, and has a yearly goal of spending 15 percent* of its total procurement resources with minority-owned businesses.
In addition, the telecom giant's Prime Supplier Program requires its tier-1 vendors to maintain their own goals for hiring a diverse pool of subcontractors. Supplier diversity has been a hot topic in recent years, but AT&T has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to minority-owned businesses.
As a major hospitality brand with properties on six continents, Wyndham Worldwide has been able to increase opportunities for minority-owned businesses around the world. The company has diversity goals for tier-1 and tier-2 suppliers, and maintains a mentoring program to help minority-owned vendors succeed. Based upon the adoption of stringentbest-practices, Wyndham Worldwide was named one of the Top 10 Companies for Supplier Diversity by DiversityInc.
The company's Supplier Diversity Program aligns good corporate citizenship with its business goals, including cost reduction and the procurement of high-quality goods and services. In 2013, Wyndham Worldwide spent 15.7 percent of its procurement budget with diverse suppliers, including minority-owned businesses.
American Airlines launched its award-winning Diversified Supplier Program in 1989. Seeing the potential advantages of working with small businesses, the company built the initiative into daily operations. Each department has vendor diversity goals, and supplier diversity advocates are tasked with making sure their divisions fulfill the commitments. This focus on accountability is one factor that can distinguish a comprehensive program from a public-relations exercise.
American Airlines has spent over $4 billion dollars with diverse suppliers (including minority-, women- and LGBT-owned vendors) since 1989, and has been consistently recognized for its successes by organizations such as the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council.
In 1968, General Motors became the first automaker to form a supplier diversity program. The company currently spends over $1 billion every year on products sourced from minority- or women-owned vendors, earning it a spot at the prestigious Billion Dollar Roundtable.
Aside from offering qualified minority-owned businesses the chance to win lucrative contracts, GM has assembled a Supplier Diversity Council to stay abreast of its vendors' concerns. Representatives from six vendors sit on the council along with thirteen GM executives. General Motors currently works with over 200 diverse suppliers to manufacture its automobiles, providing small firms with opportunities to grow.